While I’ve made it fairly clear before that I think very highly of Heartcatch Precure, I realize that I have yet to actually made a post about why I think the show is so good. Today, I will correct that.
From the vibrant and colorful character designs and setting to the energy of the series to the quality of the dialogue, Heartcatch Precure has a lot going for it. But what I think is most remarkable about it is how surprisingly mature the show can be while also still being very much for children.
Since the first Pretty Cure, the central protagonists have always operated on a theme of opposites. One is smart, the other is strong. One is talented in the arts, the other is talented in sports. As the series grew to encompass larger casts, the idea of having the characters be distinctly unique in this manner grew as well, but it’s with Heartcatch Precure that characterization has hit its highest point in the franchise.
When I watched the first episode, the first thing that really caught my attention (aside from the lively animation of the opening) was the interaction between the main characters, Hanasaki Tsubomi (“Cure Blossom”) and Kurumi Erika (“Cure Marine”). Tsubomi is a transfer student, eager to defy her previous reputation as a wallflower. What she doesn’t expect however is for the seat next to her to be occupied by Erika, a fashionable girl who sometimes has trouble with the idea of “personal space.” Erika is well-meaning and is looking to make a new friend, but her aggressive, extroverted personality is too much for the introverted Tsubomi, creating a tension between the two which is only later resolved when they learn more about each other and their own fears and doubts. Tsubomi learns to be a little more confident and out-going from Erika, and Erika is in turn influenced by Tsubomi’s patience and kindness.
In case it wasn’t obvious that Heartcatch Precure is a kids’ show, the Monster of the Week format makes it very clear. Not only is there a Character of the Week that appears and needs helping out, but they are usually transformed into the Monster of the Week as well. The gimmick is that in their monstrous form, the character expresses his or her deepest negative emotions, such as the fears and doubts in their lives. Kids’ shows really don’t operate on subtlety, and the very fact that the show just tells you exactly what is wrong with the character is the very opposite of subtle, but when I take into account the fears themselves I can’t help but be impressed at the level of maturity. Anger at being told that your dream is impossible, frustration at having to grow up too quickly because of a death or illness in the family, depression at letting others down when they need you most, the series does not shy away from presenting some very serious topics. Heck, the very fact that one of the show’s main focuses is the way these negative emotions can exist in a very real way inside all people is in itself surprisingly adult.
When I look at Heartcatch Precure, I see a heart and soul behind the series. Yes, it is still a part of a merciless merchandising machine of a franchise. However, I can see in the show that the creators desired to make a show for children that tells them, “Someone out there understands your frustration,” and helps them grow in the process. It’s something I can really get behind.